SOURCE: Goodreads Giveaway
TITLE: The Bees
AUTHOR: Laline Paull
PUBLISHER: Fourth Estate
GENRE: Dystopian, Adult, Animal Fiction
RATING: 4.5/5 Stars
Born into the lowest class of her society, Flora 717 is deemed fit only to clean her orchard hive. Yet Flora has talents that are not typical of her kin. And while mutant bees are usually instantly destroyed, Flora is reassigned to feed the newborns, before becoming a forager, collecting nectar and pollen on the wing. Before long she finds her way into the Queen's inner sanctum, learning secrets both sublime and ominous.
Flora's ascent disturbs the natural hierarchy of the colony, incensing powerful enemies. But when she feels compelled to break the most sacred law of all, Flora's instincts are overwhelmed by love, as all-consuming as it is forbidden...
What I Liked:
- Okay I'm going to start with what is by far the most impressive aspect of this story. The world-building! Is it possible for a person, no matter how much research they do, to get into the mindset of a bee? Apparently so! Everything about Flora's world felt alien and strange, and yet there was a sense of realism that really impressed me. I was completely sucked into the whole idea! I love it when authors do a lot of research and put thought into the story they are building and it was clear that Paull did. I liked the class system, the idea of the Hive Mind, the references to scent and signals and the detailed look into the life of a bee.
- The plot-line was really very good. I was very surprised that Bees could have such an interesting story to tell! This book had it all, a conspiracy, religious fanaticism, mass genocide, war. As well as Flora's personal story, there was an overriding arc that allowed a glimpse into things that we might see as insignificant (being humans) that a bee would look at very differently. The action came thick and fast and I never found a dull moment in this book, there was so much going on!
- The characters were really strong. Flora 717 was a great heroine to read about and I really felt for her plight. She was smart and had a great story to follow. There were times when I really felt sorry for her and admired her perseverance despite the many struggles thrown at her. The characters she was surrounded by were also really great. As much as they were all bees, each one had personality and though a lot of them took on the same names, it was easy to follow who was who. A particular favourite of mine was Sir Linden. Despite his arrogant appearance at the start, it was pretty clear that I was going to like this guy and I thought he was hilarious.
Things I Disliked:
- The only complaint I have is that I felt a little bit thrown into the beginning. I didn't fully understand what was happening, Flora moved around quite a lot and the pace was very quick. However, I felt this coincided pretty nicely with Flora's own confusion, having just been born and having to find her own place in a hive that didn't fully accept her differences. The feeling didn't last long either and I was soon completely immersed.
This book was a bit of a surprise to me. I did think it was going to be good, but I didn't know it was going to be this good. I would happily re-read and recommend this book to a lot of people. The characters were so strong, the world-building was insanely clever, and the plot was surprisingly filled with twists and turns that kept me hungry for more!